This past weekend was a bit surreal to me. My oldest daughter, Rebecca, moved out of our house three years ago after graduating from college. Together, we turned her childhood bedroom into my office. It was a bittersweet task as we combed through her belongings, separating them into things she was ready to give away, things she wanted to take with her, and things she was saving for her “real” home someday. That day seemed so far into the future…
Fast forward to last week. I left here with my car packed floor to ceiling with wedding gifts (the wedding is in September, but gifts have begun arriving), her newly framed law school diploma, and those few boxes of things meant for her “real” home. I smiled as I looked at the car and remembered the tear-filled day we took her to college, then the exciting day we moved her into her law school house, and finally the hot, exhausting day we moved her to a fourth floor walkup that was closer to where she would complete her final law school internship. I was looking forward to this next step and to helping her get settled into the house she would soon be sharing with her husband – a little rancher in a quiet neighborhood where they plan to rent for a year or so until they can afford to buy.
I happily drove to the apartment where Rebecca and her two best friends would meet me. On the way, I prayed the Rosary with friends via a group call and smiled as I thought about the fun we would have setting up the new home. The three friends, Ken, Anthony, and I then spent the next three hours racking up the steps and stair climbs as we packed the car in ninety-degree heat. We caravanned to the house, about thirty minutes away.
Everyone was so excited when we stepped inside and got our first look at the house. Rebecca and Anthony signed the lease sight-unseen due to COVID-19, and we were rife with anticipation. The house was adorable, and I knew it would be perfect for a young couple just beginning their lives together, and then it happened.
I suddenly found myself near tears, overwhelmed by all that was happening, unable to speak as I went from one room to another. I excused myself and hastily retreated to the bathroom and let the tears fall behind the closed door.
How had this happened?
How had twenty-four years sped by so quickly? Wasn’t it just last week that she entered kindergarten, already intellectually ahead of her peers? Hadn’t she just made her first Communion, wearing our family veil and tiara? Wasn’t her first day of high school yesterday, back when life was easy and the future was a vague idea? And hadn’t she and Anthony just met, at the end of her freshman year of college? Had it been over six years already?
Yes, I’ve had a long time to prepare for this moment. Like I said, she moved out three years ago. She’s accomplished so much in her life. She and Anthony have been together since early 2014. We’ve already been planning this wedding for over a year. Anthony has a good job, and Rebecca has a promising future as an attorney. They’re ready.
But I’m not.
In his book, Rediscover Lent, Catholic speaker and author, Matthew Kelly, wrote, “Every journey towards something is a journey away from something.” I’ve always known that each step Rebecca has taken throughout her life was both a step toward and step away. I’ve watched her walk that journey, sometimes by her side and sometimes on the sideline. I’ve cheered for her, laughed with her, and cried holding her. Now, I suppose, it’s time to step aside and let her embark on a new journey. The house is just the beginning. In exactly three months from today, Rebecca and Anthony will say, ‘I do’ and her journey will go from our journey, then her journey, to their journey.
As she begins her trek down an untraveled path, I will try to remember the words of Pope Francis:
Children are a gift. They are a gift. Each one is unique and unrepeatable, and at the same time unmistakably linked to his or her roots. Indeed, to be a son or a daughter according to God’s plan, means carrying in oneself the memory and hope of a love that has become tangible by kindling the life of another human being, original and new.
— General audience, St. Peter’s Square, Feb. 12, 2015
I pray that she always has good memories of her childhood, memories of hope and love. I pray that she feels the tangible love that her father and I always tried to bestow upon her. I pray that she has grown from kindling into a fire that warms, lights, and changes the world. I pray that she takes the words of St. Catherine of Sienna to heart, “Be who God meant you to be, and you will set the world on fire.”
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Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s book is The Greatest Gift. The suspense novel, Summer’s Squall, and all of Amy’s books, can be found online and in stores. Her latest novel, Island of Promise, was recently awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction. It is the 2019 winner for Best Inspirational Fiction in the RWA Golden Quill Contest, Best Romance in the American Book Awards, and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction. Amy’s 2019 work, The Devil’s Fortune, a finalist in the Writer’s Digest Self-Publishing Awards and winner of an Illumination Award, is based, in part, on Amy’s family history. The third book of Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Hope, was released in August of 2019.
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018), The Devil’s Fortune (2019), Island of Hope (2019).